30 Books in 2018: #1 The Kingkiller Chronicles Book 1: The Name of The Wind

Hi all!

I’m doing the Goodreads challenge for 2018, and I’ve committed to 30 books. I’d have done more, but since my 2018 reading project is an epic novel every month and those generally take a while to read, I figured adding 2 more books per month, attached to that 12 was a good way to still challenge myself.

As a way to keep myself honest (and keep some updates going here! Hooray!) I figured that I’d write up a bit about my thoughts on each book.

First up! The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, which is the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicles, which I first got wind of because there’s a TV show in development (or was? I dunno) that has Lin-Manuel Miranda attached to write the music. Since I am at a point in my cultural consumption where if someone said, “Hey! Lin-Manuel Miranda is walking off that cliff,” I’d do it, here we are!

As for the book…I liked it a lot. It’s beautifully written, full of lovely passages and interesting turns of phrase, and it’s even a different take on epic fantasy, focusing on a storyteller who works his way to become a magician and eventually (I would assume) a hero, and a killer of kings? (He has not yet killed a king, but I imagine it must happen at some point in the story…)

I generally liked the protagonist, Kvothe, and while it appears a large portion of the story will revolve around his love of a woman named Denna, I’m not as interested in that portion of the story. Which is really unusual for me, as you all know, I often focus on the love story of a thing, sometimes to the detriment of noticing other things about it.

And it’s for a really simple reason, because the story is told from Kvothe’s perspective, and he’s idealized her, I find myself rolling my eyes a lot. But there was one passage in particular that really, really bugged me.

There’s a lot of talk, as it’s the first book and Kvothe is in his teens for the main action, about how he doesn’t understand women. Which is fine, he doesn’t, and frankly, most of the women he encounters, besides Denna get treated as full people. (Not always the case in genre fiction penned by men about men.) But there’s one passage where another one of Denna’s lovers and Kvothe discuss the way she lives her life. There’s no judgement there (the fact that she’s not a virgin nor is anyone trying to “save a fallen woman” is also refreshing) and they discuss that other women hate her because she’s not like other women.

My eyes nearly got stuck in the back of my head.

If there were ever a narrative short cut for isolating a female character I’ve hated more than “she’s not like other girls,” I can’t think of it.

That is not, in my experience, how female relationships work. Women, as a whole, tend to only be set against each other like that when men pit them that way. Left to our own devices, we’ll circle the wagons and protect one another, even when we don’t particularly get along. (Why do you think so many women loved Big Little Lies so much. That was like, the entire point of that book and show!)

But other than this tiny annoyance, I really liked the book and I look forward to book 2, which I will be reading when I finish War And Peace, which is the first epic I’m tackling.

I like Kvothe, I particularly like the framing device of him telling his life story, with his mysterious faerie companion, Bast, and a character known as Chronicler. And Rothfuss is clearly a very good writer, I can put up with some little bits of casual misogyny for a good turn of phrase. (Seriously, Sorkin in my favorite writer.) (I also realize this makes me part of the problem)

And if there are many more nuggets in this series as good as the one below, I’ll be fine:

The three boys, one dark, one light, and one—for lack of a better word—fiery, do not notice the night. Perhaps some part of them does, but they are young, and drunk, and busy knowing deep in their hearts that they will never grow old or die.

That’s really beautiful. Just, stunningly constructed.

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Time To Get Personal: Let’s Talk About 2017

I feel like 2017 needs to be subtitles, “the year I undid a bunch of work I’d done the year before.”

But that isn’t totally fair because I had some pretty big wins. But I want to start with the not so great stuff.

My day job fell apart, which lead to things here sort of falling apart too. This is because it was taking every scrap of my will and sanity to keep from falling off a cliff into the toxic sludge of that place. And just when I thought it was just me, I was quickly validated by several other coworkers. (One of whom took extended medical leave just to tend to the mental health issues brought on by the stress of this place. Seriously, it was nightmare) In the end, it turned out they were getting ready to sell the company and the stress and tension of that was trickling down to everyone.

Because of that stress I stopped dieting, I stopped running and I drank wayyy too much. So a lot of the progress I’d made in 2016 and the first half of 2017 went down the tubes. My weight is up, my habits are bad, I’m gonna do my best to repair that damage now, but oof, it’s been rough.

In addition to that, Mary moved to Colorado. This is awesome for her. I’m so so proud of my little sister, but I miss her all the time, and I never realized how much I rely on her for just like, helping me keep my life in perspective. And I decided not to do a show, so for the first time since I was fourteen I wasn’t in a theater all summer. Both of these things would be fine on their own, but in addition to the job stress and put together, it left me feeling unmoored.

Luckily, I recognized what was going on and began a job search in earnest in September and by Thanksgiving I was someplace new, which is lower stress, higher pay, and most of all, my boss does not appear to be a psychopath who calls me stupid when I ask questions and then when I try to figure things out on my own yells at me for doing things wrong. (It was really really bad, you guys).  I also knew enough to get into therapy, and practice basic self care, but it was really really hard.

So, aside from that, let’s talk about the good things:

I ran my half marathon! And I’ve decided to train for a full. (I haven’t chosen yet, it may be Disney, or I may do another destination city…) This will be a tremendous commitment, but I’m ready for it!

I moved out of my parents’ place and into my own. I love my apartment, and frankly, during the really rough moments with work, it was really great to be able to go home to a place that was mine and sit quietly, or cry, or huddle up and watch Gossip Girl without worrying how this would effect my family. Or call in for a mental health day without it also causing my mom to spiral into anxiety. We feed each other’s dysfunction that way. This move has been GREAT for our relationship.

I kept my resolution to be more social (AND HOW). Even if my weekends were sometimes more solitary than I’d originally planned, I did something with friends pretty much every week this year. MAJOR Shout outs to Katie, Aless and Crystan, but not forgetting Juli and Chrissy, for whom lack of proximity forces less interaction. I should note that getting in the habit of being social also helped my mental health A LOT. When on any given evening Aless will text and say, “I’m coming to your place tonight” I’ve gotta keep the place clean, or Crystan pointing out that we have tickets for something means that regular bathing is a necessity. And, I really missed Katie. Adulthood makes maintaining friendships from when you were younger hard, but as our friendship prepares for it’s Sweet 16 (We’ve now been friends for over 50% of our lives. It’s terrifying. We’re old.) I’m so glad we’ve managed to spend a bunch of time together. And a bonus of all of our hanging out, I discovered how much I love $9 wine, and as I understand it, she discovered a love of Jarlsberg. HUZZAH!

And, I’m keeping this very vague…I liked liked someone for the first time in a while, and they liked me back. We’re still not sure where it’s going, but it’s good, and even if it’s just friendship, I’m glad my depression didn’t stamp out that part of myself.

So, 2018 personal resolutions:

Start running again. 4 days a week. No excuses.

NO DRINKING ON WEEKNIGHTS AT MY HOUSE. Period. End of sentence. If I’m in my apartment, and I have work the next day, NYET. Even when out, limited to 1 glass of wine.

Seriously cook once a week. Crock Pot dumps and “reheat type” cooking more often, but my Uncles gave me a cook book for Christmas and I want to experiment with my kitchen a bit.

Take dating seriously. Seriously. This means apps and websites and speed dating and all kinds of nightmares that I hate, but with my mental health in check and no more “I live with my parents” as an excuse, I want to get into this. Having gotten into the habit of being more social last year, I think this is a good extension of that.

Movie Season 2017 – Wrap Up

So, obviously, I didn’t see as many movies as I usually do in 2017. This was for A LOT of reasons. (I wasn’t interested in as many, I was trying not to spend money, I was travelling, my day job annihilated my mental health and extra energy.) (We’ll get into the next one at a later date) But I did make it to the Cineplex 15 times and generally liked everything I saw. Even the stuff that most people thought was abysmal. Anyway, let’s go through each ranking

Wonder Woman

I don’t know if this was my favorite movie of the year just because of the symbolism, but God, I loved it. I still love it. I’ve watched it at least 5 times (not the most times I’ve rewatched a movie on this list) and each time, I cry, I laugh, I clap, I swoon. Gal Gadot is wonderful. Chris Pine is wonderful and finally, finally a big screen female superhero was done right and a DC movie captured all the things I like about one of their characters.

The Big Sick

I was going back through movie seasons past and noticed something. There is ALWAYS a good romantic comedy high on my list. THIS GENRE WILL NOT GO SOFTLY INTO THAT DARK SUPER POWERED NIGHT! As I’ve said before, I hope that Emily and Kumail write more romantic comedies. Kumail has said that the actor who most inspires him is Hugh Grant. MAKE KUMAIL THE NEXT HUGH GRANT! Without all of the cheating on his super awesome wife with prostitutes stuff. Obviously.

Coco

Moving, visually stunning, smart, entertaining and culturally specific, Coco delivers on a whole other level than other recent Disney and Pixar stuff.

Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

This. fricking. movie. I loved it, I think? I see it’s flaws. I get why people hated it. I did not love it the way I loved The Force Awakens, (case in point, I still haven’t seen it a second time around until this past Saturday, where as with TFA I ran out the next night for round 2.)

Battle Of The Sexes

Emma Stone is really good, and this movie is even better than she is. Sarah Silverman is really really good and that no one is talking about this performance for supporting actress is a travesty.

Dunkirk

I feel like I saw this movie a long time ago and I remember very little of it. I remember liking it though, so yay? 

Spider-Man: Homecoming

I. Love. This. Movie. It’s the one I’ve rewatched the most by the way (usually on planes. It was a Jet Blue selection for both Disney trips this fall…) and it gets better every time. When I considered doing a reranking, it was mostly to move this one up higher. I love it SO SO SO much.

Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2

Better than the first? Maybe. Certainly more emotional, and I actually prefer this soundtrack. (It has Fleetwood Mac!) Christ Pratt has probably never been better than he is in this movie.

The Greatest Showman

OH MY GOD I’M SO BORED!!!

Thor: Ragnarok

When I describe my reaction to this movie, I use the below quote:

Lester Bangs: How do you feel about Lou Reed?
William: I like the older stuff, but now he’s just trying to be Bowie. He should just be himself.

In this analogy, Thor: Ragnarok is Lou Reed, and Guardians of The Galaxy is Bowie. (Also that quote from Almost Famous.)

Justice League

In a world where Superhero movies have endless potential, we get this one…which is absolutely fine and solid, but should be much, much better.

King Arthur: Legend of The Sword

Man am I bummed out that this movie wasn’t a hit. In a BIG way. I liked it a lot.

The Dark Tower

All hail the Crimson King! I recently realized that the most annoying thing about this movie, is that they didn’t give them enough budget to license “Hey Jude.” “Hey Jude” should 100% be in this movie. (And at that, if you’re doing a mash up of the whole series instead of just  The Gunslinger EDDIE AND SUSANNAH NEED TO BE IN IT)

Cars 3

It’s weird that this landed so low, because I really, really liked it. Eh

Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

This movie is garbage. Do not watch this movie. It is bad. And not just because it turns out Johnny Depp is a terrible person. It’s a bad movie all on it’s own.

So that’s this year’s movie season! I hope everyone enjoyed their time of blockbusters and I wish you the happiest of New Years! Movie Season 2018 kicks off on May 4th with Avengers: Infinity War.

To lead up to that! I’m watching the entire MCU. Well, all the movies. Not the shows. We tried that, remember? Didn’t go well. One a week, quick hit rereviews. (With links to the older ones that I have reviewed. Going back to Avengers…) Between that and X-Files being back, the blog should be good and anchored for a while, which will keep us all from losing our grip without any Game Of Thrones this year!

Happy New Year, lots of love!

Prince Of Humbug

greatest showman.jpg

 

The opening moment of The Greatest Showman is Hugh Jackman, as P.T. Barnum, in silhouette, standing, cane extended, top hat on, ankles crossed, poised to start dancing, and he sings in a husky whisper, “this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.”

I inhaled sharply. I have been waiting for this moment. For a very long time, it feels sometimes. I’m a superhero fan so to complain about Jackman’s career eschewing his song and dance roots so that he could play Wolverine for all those years always felt like choosing between air and water. I wanted, I needed both.

Les Mis came and went mostly unremarked upon. (A shame really, because Jackman is very good as Jean Valjean) and three more rounds as Logan (all quite good) kept him away for five more years. So as The Greatest Showman began it’s run up, I found myself singing “Hello Dolly” in my head everytime I saw something related to it.

I tell you all this so that you understand how much I wanted to love this movie. My heart was open, ready to fill in the space carved out nearly fourteen years ago when I watched the West End version of Oklahoma on PBS the first time. Barnum is a perfect persona for Jackman, all flash and twinkle with a dark side a mile long. Add in Zac Efron (also coming home) and Zendaya and Michelle Williams (who is incredible in this, but who is always incredible) and I was a perfect mark, the kind of sucker Barnum would have dreamed of walking by his museum.

This movie. *sigh*

This movie is fine.

It could have been great, and has flashes of greatness. The performances are strong. The songs are very good. The script is thin but satisfactory.

But the movie lacks style. The whole time I was sitting there thinking, “this movie needs Baz Luhrman and it needs him badly.” Hell, it probably even could have been stepped up with Bill Condon, who co-wrote the screenplay and did truly interesting work with Chicago and Dreamgirls. Instead aesthetically, it feels like Moulin Rouge‘s technicolor dream world of oddballs got lost and popped into Newsies and it never quite gels.

Jackman is phenomenal, and Williams is even better as Charity Barnum, and the movie hinges on them. Efron and Zendaya do well in their roles and their duet “Rewrite The Stars” is probably the best song in the movie, though “This Is Me” a full company song lead by Keala Settle as the Bearded Lady is the best number, and certainly the one with the strongest point of view and “The Other Side” a duet between Jackman and Efron is pure musical theater goodness, complete with soft shoe and Sondheim-esque talk singing.

I’ve very recently decided that while I appreciate the music of Pasek and Paul, I think that their work is not always for me. I loved the movie La La Land, but found the songs underwhelming, I hated the song they wrote for The Flash, I’m not in love with A Christmas Story and while I get the appeal of Dear Evan Hansen, I am no longer sixteen and so the music doesn’t do much for me. (And it winning Best Score over Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet of 1812 or War Paint or Come From Away is criminal…) The Greatest Showman is a bit of an outlier there. These songs are very good if terminally poppy and a bit obsessed with dropping the beat.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Coco
  4. Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  5. Battle Of The Sexes
  6. Dunkirk
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  8. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  9. The Greatest Showman
  10. Thor: Ragnarok
  11. Justice League
  12. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  13. The Dark Tower
  14. Cars 3
  15. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers

I’ve stopped commenting on trailers mostly because few grab me these days.

Peter Rabbit looks awful. It doesn’t even appear to have anything to do with Peter Rabbit at all. Whattabummer

Paddington 2 I didn’t see the first one, thought I heard it was surprisingly delightful and I’m sure this one will be quite good too, and features Hugh Grant, whom I completely adore.

Love, Simon: GAY YA MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE SHOULD ALL SUPPORT THIS. Yes, it’s still a white cis upper middle class gay boy, and it’s a coming out story, (booo) but STILL!

Next week is going to be dedicated to wrap ups. Movie Season summaries. (And possibly a rearranging of rankings) a “what I learned in my Disney Year” post, and a plan for moving forward in 2018 (whether I stick to that plan or not WHO KNOWS…but it involves a lot of Marvel)

I’m still going to be going to the movies pretty regularly even though the season is over, and I may review an Oscar bait here and there, we’ll see.

Coronation Day

It’s Annalise’s coronation! And Marina makes a decision…because of consent and boundaries.

The Marina Chronicle

Everything in the past month happened so quickly, that I nearly forgotten it was coronation day when I woke up. I was still up ages before Annalise, though I’ll never beat Athena, who wakes up before the sun every day.

She says it’s from growing up with the General, I think she’s just showing off.

“Oh, good,” she said as I entered the sitting room, she was dressed in her guard uniform and had her gown for the ball hung up. I love that gown. It’s green, for Dovetail, but it’s embroidered with Pantona’s crest, it’s officially acknowledging her and Aaron’s engagement. “You’re awake, you can help.”

“Sure,” I said, “with what? We laid Annalise’s clothes out last night, and she’s still asleep so she couldn’t possibly need anything.”

need your help,” she sighed. “Aaron mentioned you were,” she sighed, “he said you’d been working on something.” I…

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Renegades, World Building, And Other Thoughts

renegades

This summer, when I read The Lunar Chronicles, I eventually fell head over heals with the complicated and fun sci fi fairytale world that Marissa Meyer created. (Also, when I learned she got her start with Sailor Moon fan fiction, a lot of her decisions suddenly made a lot more sense to me.) And, I give an immense amount of credit to both  The Lunar Chronicles and The Dark Tower and their games of genre mashup, which helped give me the confidence to finally dive in and work past my fear of making The Marina Chronicle what I wanted it to be and to share it with people. (HEY! READ THE MARINA CHRONICLE! Also check out my facebook, where there is now an album of likenesses I created of many of the characters!) (The genres I’m mashing up are old school WB style teen dramas and epic fantasy.) (It’s easier than you’d think.) (If you live in my head.)

But, when I finished Cinder I thought, “I liked this, and I think the world is cool, but it took a while for me to get into it.”

And here’s the thing, the exact same thing happened while I was reading Renegades: Book 1, the first book in Meyer’s new series about super heroes and villains.

I love the conceit. A world where people with powers come to prominence, live for years in a world of villain sponsored chaos and then a group of super heroes defeat the villains and establish something akin to an autocratic rule. In the middle you’ve got a generation of teens who remember the terror of their childhood, but aren’t sure about the new system either.

At it’s center is Nova, a girl raised by supervillains, who infiltrates The Renegades, and find her loyalties torn when she falls in love with the son of two of the most influential Renegades.

This book has everything I love. Seriously, super heroes, girl lead, teens with powers, star crossed romance, murky motivation, philosophical discussions about the nature of human beings and societal constructs.

But it took me forever to get into it. Like, I would read a chapter, think, “huh,” put it down and then not pick it back up again for a week.

Finally,  because I’m starting a new reading project for 2018 in January, I decided I was going to finish it last night.

And once I got to about the halfway point, I was hooked. I was invested in Nova and Adrian’s love story. I was invested in the murky decisions the Renegades were making. I was invested in the Anarchists (the villain gang that raised Nova) and their goals. I was invested in Nova and her torn loyalties.

But, here’s the thing, this story that has all these elements that I love should not take nearly one hundred pages to hook me, and as it’s now the second time this has happened with me and Meyer, I think it must be some disconnect between me and her way of kicking off stories.

But I like her stories, so I guess I’m going to keep reading. And in the end Renegades was very worth it.

Anyway, about that 2018 reading project? Like The Vonnegut project, (cut off early, and unfinished, because my depression was sort of kicking my ass, and I needed to lighten up my media intake for a bit) (this is also why I haven’t watched The Punisher yet and I’ve been rewatching Psych!) (Psych is awesome!) (And really good for depression watching.) (It’s so perky and life affirming!) it’s about making sure that I stretch my brain a little bit. I’m going to read an epic novel every months of 2018. I’m starting in January with War And Peace. (What, Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet of 1812 has nothing to do with the decision…what a ridiculous thought.) I’ll also be tackling Dune, Middlemarch, David Copperfield, Infinite Jest & probably Ulysses.

That’ll push me up to June, and I’m sure others will come to me in that time, but I’m SUPER open to suggestions. I’m trying not to reread any epics I’ve already read. Though I’m overdue to try Les Mis again, and I’m curious what my new slightly woker self would think of Gone With The Wind and no visit to Middle Earth is wasted, it’s time to expand my view a little bit. ESPECIALLY looking for epic novels not written by white dudes. Or white people in general, as my those first six are REALLY white. (I’ve also already read The Color Purple.)

A Letter From The Future

Annalise gets a disappointing letter, and Aaron teasing Marina about liking a boy.

Also people pointing out class differentials to her. Like she doesn’t know. *Eyeroll*

The Marina Chronicle

I think this week, has been the most incredible of my whole life. I study and help Annalise during the days and at night, when he’s through his duties and mine, I find myself in different gardens with William.

Or in parlors, or well, in his room. His room is wonderful. It’s simple and clean and smells like him. And his smell, clean linen, mixed with grass and gunpowder. He holds me close and whispers my name and kisses me and his hands move over me and, it’s wonderful.

He uses his hands on me, well, in me and that’s even more wonderful. I use mine, and I think it’s clumsy, but he hasn’t complained. It’s amazing.

“I want you,” he whispered in my ear tonight as I nuzzled against his neck in a rose garden. “I’ve never wanted anyone,” he let out a soft moan, “gods Marina, stop!” I…

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